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  UNDER HIS BLESSING EPHESIANS 1:1-14: “May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!” (v3)

As we focus on each of the eight beatitudes I shall, as I have always done, use additional readings to broaden and buttress our biblical understanding of them. The first of Lord Jesus’ beatitudes is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven as seen in Matthew 5:3 which reads, “3 Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied, and [b]spiritually prosperous—[c]with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!”. Some translations use the word ‘happy’ rather than ‘blessed’. Because the word ‘happy’ is used so freely it does not, I believe, fully convey the meaning Lord Jesus had in mind and so I will use it sparingly. In this first statement Lord Jesus highlights one of the most vital issues in life which is–personal satisfaction and joy: in other words, living out our lives under the blessing of God. There is hardly anyone anywhere on planet Earth who doesn’t want to be blessed, who doesn’t want life to be satisfying and productive –to live their best life. These natural longing for satisfaction, joyfulness, blessedness and productiveness is a deep-rooted inbuilt instinct in all of us, and it has been built into us by the Creator Himself. The God who made the sunset, painted the rose, put the smile on a baby’s face, gave the gifts of playfulness to a puppy and put laughter on our lips, loves to bless His people by giving them real happiness, contentment and joy. He longs for His children to be able to say: ‘The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy as seen in Psalms 126:3 which reads, “3The Lord has done great things for us! We are glad! However, although it is God’s will that His children experience happiness and enjoy His blessing in their lives, it is important for us to understand that it is only as or when we live in harmony with God and follow His principles that our souls can experience the blessing He has for us. There can be no real and true satisfaction in the soul which depends for its pleasure and joy on things other than God.

  Living Within the Glorious Will of God Ephesians 1:1-14:

In this chapter we have, 1. The introduction to the whole epistle, which is much the same as in others, as seen in Ephesians 1:1,2 2. The apostle’s thanksgivings and praises to God for His inestimable blessings bestowed on the believing Ephesians, as seen in Ephesians 1:3-14. 3. His earnest prayers to God on their behalf, as seen in Ephesians 1:15-23. This great apostle was wont to abound in prayers and in thanksgivings to Almighty God, which he generally so disposes and orders that at the same time they carry with them and convey the great and important doctrines of the Christian religion, and the most weighty instructions to all those who seriously peruse (examine carefully or at length) them. From verses 3-14 of Ephesians 1, He begins with thanksgivings and praise, and enlarges with a great of fluency and copiousness of affection upon the exceedingly great and precious benefits which we enjoy by Jesus Christ. For the great privileges of our religion are very aptly recounted and enlarged upon in our praises to God. a. In general he blesses God for spiritual blessings as seen in Ephesians 1:3, where he wrote thus, “3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!” b. The particular spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ, and for which we ought to bless and thank God are (many of them) here enumerated and enlarged upon: i. Election and predestination, which are the secret springs from whence the other blessings flows, as seen in Ephesians 1:4,5,11 ii. The next spiritual blessing the apostle takes notice of is acceptance with God through Jesus Christ: Wherein, or by which grace He hath made us accepted in the beloved as seen in Ephesians 1:6. iii. Remission of sins, and redemption through the blood of Jesus as seen in Ephesians 1:7 iv. Another privilege which the apostle here blesses God for is divine revelation- that God hath made known to us the mystery of His will as seen in Ephesians 1:9 v. Union in and with Christ is a great privilege, a spiritual blessing, and this union with Christ is the foundation of many other blessings. He gathers together in one all things in Christ as seen in Ephesians 1:10. vi. The eternal inheritance is the great blessing with which we are blessed in Christ as seen in Ephesians 1:11. Heaven is the inheritance, the happiness of which is a sufficient portion for a soul: it is conveyed in the way of an inheritance, being the gift of a Father to His children. If children, then heirs. All blessings that we have in hand are but small if compared with the inheritance. What is laid out upon an heir in his minority is nothing to what is reserved for him when he comes to age. Christians are said to have obtained this inheritance, as they have a present right to it, and even actual possession of it, in Christ their head and representative. vii. The seal and earnest of the Spirit are of the number of these blessings. We are said to be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise as seen in Ephesians 1:13. The Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance as seen in Ephesians 1:14. The earnest is part of payment, and it secures the full sum: so is the gift of the Holy Ghost all His influences and operations, both as a sanctifier and a comforter, are heaven begun, glory in the seed and bud. The Spirit’s illumination is an earnest of everlasting light sanctification is an earnest of perfect holiness and His comforts are earnests of everlasting joys. He is said to be the earnest until the redemption of the purchased possession. It may be called here the possession, because this earnest makes it as sure to be the heirs as though they were already possessed of it and it is purchased for them by the blood of Christ. The redemption of it mentioned because it was mortgaged and forfeited by sin and Christ restores it to us, and so is said to redeem it, in allusion to the law of redemption. Observe, from all this, what a gracious promise that is which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask Him. The apostle mentions the great end and design of God in bestowing all these spiritual privileges, that we should be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ –we to whom the gospel was first preached, and who were first converted to the faith of Christ, and to the placing of our hope and trust in Him. Note Seniority in grace is a preferment: Who were in Christ before me, says the apostle in Romans 16:7 which reads, “7 Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was” those who have for a longer time experienced the grace of Christ are under more special obligations to glorify God. They should be strong in faith, and more eminently glorify Him but this should be common end of all. For this we were made, and for this we were redeemed this is the great design of our Christianity and of God in all that He has done for us: unto the praise of His glory as seen in Ephesians 1:14 which reads, “14That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.”. He intends that His grace and power and other perfection should by this means become conspicuous and illustrious, and that the sons of men should magnify Him. Let us begin by reading Ephesians 1:1-14 Paul, an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah), by the divine will (the purpose and the choice of God) to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones) [a]at Ephesus who are also faithful and loyal and steadfast in Christ Jesus: 2 May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! 4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. 5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]— 6 [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, 8 Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence), 9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in [c]Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth. 11 In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will, 12 So that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory! 13 In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit. 14 That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

  Introduction:

The book of Ephesians is about the church — the eternal purpose of God in Christ. The epistle takes us from eternity to eternity, in contemplation of the divine plan. Obviously, God wants us to understand something about His eternal purpose. Ephesians demands our careful attention. Its theme could not be more important. What should we expect from studying this book? Will we understand God’s plan better? Yes. And what else? If we put our hearts into the inspired letter, we will love God more, and gladly decide to live closer to Him without force or persuasion of any kind. Illustration: Three military recruiters showed up to address some high school seniors. Graduation was only a few months away, and the military men were there for the obvious—to articulate to these graduating young men and women some of the options that military service would provide them. The meeting was to last forty-five minutes. Each recruiter representing Army, Navy, and Marine Corps—was to have fifteen minutes. Well, the Army and Navy recruiters got carried away. When it came time for the Marine to speak, he had two minutes. So he walked up with two minutes to make his speech. He stood utterly silent for a full sixty seconds—half of his time. Then he said this: "I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marine Corps. I want to see those two or three immediately in the dinning hall when we are dismissed." He turned smartly and sat down. When he arrived in the dining hall, those students interested in the Marines were a mob. They acted without delay. He appealed to the heroic dimension in every heart. The gospel is not a heroic call—but it is a divine call to live within the will of God. An understanding of this divine call should be even more compelling than a heroic call. Blinded By Our Own Will: As a Christian do you see your life as a divine calling? It is and it should be. But many people thought it is a heroic call and there lies the mistake that often bring people to discouragement when the heroic achievements they had in mind for heeding the call does not come true hence you see people turning the work of God for their personal economic gains to make a hero. As a non-Christian do you see that your greatest possibilities lie within the call of God? Calvin Miller said, "The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are of the earth." (Calvin Miller, "The Finale." Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 4.) That’s just another way of saying the world has lost the sense of its divine calling. Joan Winmill Brown writes, "Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties of our calling that we may sleep in thy peace and wake in thy glory." (My Heart sings, Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 10.) How often has the Bible, in the minds of many, become nothing more than an earthly roadmap to health, wealth and prosperity? The Christian life becomes largely an earthly pursuit for economic gains. How many follow God’s plan to discover earthly treasures. Many today may be following some church plan that blinds them to the spiritual treasure God has laid up for them. It leaves them poor, blind and wretched. Sadly, a worldly view of the church often blinds us to the spiritual treasures we have in Christ. The trouble with the church today is that it has become egocentric—so interested in itself. We have become so subjective that we can see nothing outside our personal interest and gain. Sadly the church has lost sight of its calling. It is little wonder that Christians have lost sight of their divine call—the church’s view of its mission has blinded us to God’s call. Glen W. Harrell writes, "It’s hard to imagine: "-Paul having the gift of entertainment. "-Barnabas being the minister of entertainment, rather than the minister of encouragement. "-Jesus selling tickets to the feeding of the 5,000. "-James begging money for "tickle the ear and promotional programs" of people in his church who developed wrong expectations. "-Peter peddling his ‘Feed My Sheep’ seminars. "Far too often, we’ve tried to bring ministry, music and entertainment together, and in so doing, we’ve lost the integrity and true meaning of the true and correct music of the church. No one can honestly say they’ve been "called by God to entertain." The true music of the church is discovered as our hearts and minds respond to the blessings given to us by the will of God. This type of realization results in a heartfelt response to God as we are filled and led by His Spirit to live within the will of God. Then our lives will become sweet music to others and to the Lord as seen in Ephesians 5:18-19 “18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. 19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[a]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord,” Our Salvation Is God’s Choosing: The purest way to understand and respond to the salvation offered in Jesus Christ is to see it from heaven’s point of view. No epistle of the apostle Paul gives a clearer perspective of salvation from heaven’s vantage than the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians begins like many letters of the first century — an identification of the author, the recipients, and a greeting. But this is no ordinary letter. It is from “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” as seen in Ephesians 1:1 which reads, “Paul, an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah), by the divine will (the purpose and the choice of God) to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones) [a]at Ephesus who are also faithful and loyal and steadfast in Christ Jesus:” The letter has the authority that Christ gave to His apostles; it is a revelation of the mind of God as seen in Luke 10:16 which reads, “16 He who hears and heeds you [disciples] hears and heeds Me; and he who slights and rejects you slights and rejects Me; and he who slights and rejects Me slights and rejects Him who sent Me”; in John 14:26 also reads, “26 But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you”; in Jn. 16:13 we further read, “13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]”; still in Acts 22:14-15 we read, “14 And he said, The God of our forefathers has destined and appointed you to come progressively to know His will [to perceive, to recognize more strongly and clearly, and to become better and more intimately acquainted with His will], and to see the Righteous One (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), and to hear a voice from His [own] mouth and a message from His [own] lips; 15 For you will be His witness unto all men of everything that you have seen and heard.” Paul adds, “. . . by the will of God” as seen in Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11. He was appointed by God “to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from His mouth” as seen in Acts 22:14 ““14 And he said, The God of our forefathers has destined and appointed you to come progressively to know His will [to perceive, to recognize more strongly and clearly, and to become better and more intimately acquainted with His will], and to see the Righteous One (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), and to hear a voice from His [own] mouth and a message from His [own] lips;”. His preaching was authoritative — and still is. We are reading what God wants us to know as seen in Ephesians 3:3-4 “3 [And] that the mystery (secret) was made known to me and I was allowed to comprehend it by direct revelation, as I already briefly wrote you. 4 When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ”. Paul wrote to “the saints and the faithful.” The word “saints” refers to Christians — not to an alleged spiritually elite. All Christians are saints (i.e., holy ones) because they are cleansed by Jesus blood, dedicated to God, and “set apart” for divine service. They were “the faithful” because they exercised faith in Jesus Christ. They believed the gospel, obeyed it, and continuously lived in it as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 which reads, “And now let me remind you [since it seems to have escaped you], brethren, of the Gospel (the glad tidings of salvation) which I proclaimed to you, which you welcomed and accepted and upon which your faith rests, 2 And by which you are saved, if you hold fast and keep firmly what I preached to you, unless you believed at first without effect and all for nothing. 3 For I passed on to you first of all what I also had received, that Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for our sins in accordance with [what] the Scriptures [foretold]”. “The saints and the faithful” are “in Christ”. Being “in Christ” means that a person has been united with Him, is hidden in Him, and lives for Him as seen in Romans 6:5 which reads “5 For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God]”; Colossians 3:3 reads, “3 For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God”; Philippians 1:21 reads, “21 For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]”. Together, the faithful are His body, the church as seen in Ephesians 1:22-23 “22 And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], 23 Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].” Spiritual Thoughts for Spiritual People: Paul greets them with spiritual thoughts of “grace and peace.” These terms were common greetings in Greek and Hebrew circles. But the words take on fuller meaning in the Christian context. “Grace” means favour. When used of God it refers to the favour bestowed in our interest, which is undeserved. God is praiseworthy because of His grace (bestowed freely, but not unconditionally). This favour is priceless and saving. If God were not gracious, we would have no hope. Grace is coupled with peace. Grace is what God bestows; peace is the result of those who receive grace as seen in 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. We cannot be at peace with God without receiving His grace. We have peace with God and remain in His grace when we are justified through obedience to the gospel as seen in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we are justified ([a]acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to [b]enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)” ; Rom. 1:5,16 “5 It is through Him that we have received grace (God's unmerited favor) and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name's sake among all the nations, 16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God's power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” Accordingly, Paul salutes all readers of Ephesians, wanting us to know the fullness of the Lord’s favour, the sufficiency of His grace, the reconciliation of it’s effects, and the tranquillity or peace of being right with God. The Source of Christian Life: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” as seen in Ephesians 1:2 “2 May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The source of spiritual life is God, our heavenly Father. The term “Father,” applied to God, is used in two ways in Scripture. He is Father of all — as Creator as seen in Acts 17:28-29 “28 For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring. 29 Since then we are God's offspring, we ought not to suppose that Deity (the Godhead) is like gold or silver or stone, [of the nature of] a representation by human art and imagination, or anything constructed or invented.” Also, He is Father of the saved — as Redeemer as seen in John 1:12 “12 But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.” The second sense is used here. Christians are “born again” by the will of the Father, and are in His spiritual household as seen in John 3:5 “5Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God” ; Ephesians 1:5 “5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—“; Ephesians 2:19 “19 Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household”. Jesus Christ is also the source of spiritual life. He is the means by which God gives eternal life to those who obey Him as seen in Ephesians 1:7 which reads “7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favour”; Romans 3:23-26 “23 Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory [b]which God bestows and receives. 24 [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, 25 Whom God put forward [[c]before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. 26 It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time ([d]in the now season) that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in Jesus.”; 1 John 2:1-2 “My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. 2 And He [[a]that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.” Christ is here identified as the “Lord.” Paul reminds his readers of the deity of Lord Jesus as seen in Colossians 2:9 “9 For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]”. He reigns in a domain where only deity belongs. Having taken on flesh for the redemptive work, He accomplished the eternal purpose of God — to bring grace and peace to undeserving and miserable humanity. Paul in Praise: Many of Paul’s letters begin with thanksgiving and prayer. A good example is Colossians. “We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” as seen in Colossians 1:3 “3 We [a]continually give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), as we are praying for you”. This motif is also found in Ephesians, but it does not occur until 1:15. In Ephesians 1:3-14, the apostle praises God. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Paul “eulogizes” the work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as seen in Ephesians 1:3 which reads “3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! , in v 5 5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—, and in v 14 14 That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory”. When the apostle John peered into heaven, he witnessed an anthem of praise: “Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever” as seen in Revelation 5:13 which reads “13 And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth [in Hades, the place of departed spirits] and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)!”. Will you echo Paul’s praise of Ephesians 1:3-14?

  Blessed Be the Father:

“3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!” as seen in Ephesians 1:3. The word “blessed” is eulogeo — like our word “eulogy.” It means, “to speak well of.” There are related words for “blessing” men, but this word is used only of God in the New Testament. Men may be “praised” for their benevolent deeds occasionally, but God is “blessed” because of His intrinsic nature. God, because of His nature, blesses us. He is, therefore, worthy of praise as seen in Psalm 18:3 “3 I will call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.” Paul shows that God is the source of all spiritual blessings by the phrase “according to”. It means “in accordance with, in conformity with, corresponding to”. God’s redemptive blessings are “in conformity with” His good pleasure, His grace, His purpose, and His will. He chose to bless us in Christ because that is His nature. We ought, therefore, to praise Him or always speak well of Him no matter the situation or circumstance. In Christ: God blesses us “in Christ.” He chose us “in Him.” He adopted us “through Jesus Christ.” God’s grace is given “in the Beloved.” Redemption is “in Him.” Forgiveness of sins is “in Him.” God’s purpose is “in Him.” Salvation is “in Him.” God alone is the source of spiritual blessings, and Christ is the only way to access them. God’s plan of salvation is inseparable from His Son. Jesus said, “24 That is why I told you that you will die in (under the curse of) your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He [Whom I claim to be—if you do not adhere to, trust in, and rely on Me], you will die in your sins” as seen in John 8:24. Likewise, He said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.” as seen in John 14:6. Ephesians 1:7 “7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor,” defines salvation as redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Salvation is not just “. . . closing the gap between our real and our ideal existence and thus achieving self-fulfilment”. Salvation is not finding freedom from the world and its suffering through “self-migration.” Salvation is not human achievement. Hinduism and Buddhism fail to identify the source of man’s problems; they certainly fail, therefore, to provide the solution. God revealed to us our origin, nature, sinful state, needs, purpose, and the way of salvation. Salvation is redemption by God. It is accomplished by the in-our-place death of Jesus Christ. And we must submit to Him as seen in Hebrews 5:9 “9 And, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him”; in Acts 4:12 “12 And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.” Sin is the problem, and salvation in Christ is the solution. In the Heavenly Places: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” as seen in Ephesians 1:3 “3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!” The phrase translated “in the heavenly places” is en tois epouraniois (lit., “in the heavenlies”). This construction is only found in Ephesians. Paul uses this group of words four more times. It is “in the heavenly realm” where Christ reigns as seen in Ephesians 1:20 “20 Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places]”. Christians sit with Him “in the heavenlies” as seen in Ephesians 2:6 “6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us [a]joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”. God’s wisdom is made known through the church to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places” as seen in Ephesians 3:10 “10 [The purpose is] that through the church the [c]complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere”. Christians war against evil forces “in the heavenly realm” as seen in Ephesians 6:12 which reads, “12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere”. The clause appears to be synonymous with “spiritual.” As children of God, we are sojourners on earth, but we are citizens of heaven as seen in Philippians 3:20 “20 But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we [a]earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior”. We acknowledge the existence of spiritual realities, spiritual influences, and spiritual goals. Life is more than the physical. The spiritual realm is the place in which God gives all spiritual blessings. The spiritual realm or the heavenly is the domain of Christ’s kingdom and God’s eternal purpose. It is the essence of life. Predestined to What? As Paul identifies some specific spiritual blessings, he says God "chose us. . . before the foundation of the world. . . having foreordained us. . . " as seen in Ephesians 1:4-5 “4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. 5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[a]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—“Clearly God “predestined” or “foreordained” the saved. But what is the nature of this predestination? And is it conditional or unconditional? The word translated “foreordained” or “predestined” is from the Greek term proginosko. It literally means “to know before,” being a compound term. What the Father “decided before” is a very important thing as seen in Ephesians 1:4-5. Did He determine who would be believers and who would be unbelievers? Assuming this is the case then what is the purpose or function of each in the overall plan of the Creator? Consider the following biblical truths. We read of man’s obligation to obey God throughout the Bible. We also see the continuous pleading of God for men to believe and obey Him as seen in Matthew 11:28-30 “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and [e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne”. It is incredulous to think that God would plead with men who allegedly could not believe. Since people can and must respond to the preaching of the gospel, the Lord commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature as seen in Mark 16:15-16 “15 And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole [a]human race]. 16 He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] and is baptized will be saved [[b]from the penalty of eternal death]; but he who does not believe [who does not adhere to and trust in and rely on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned”. The ones who submit to the gospel will be saved. God did not decide who would believe and who would disobey. He did, however, determine that those who would believe would be saved. So it becomes a case of personal decision and free will on the part of individual, you can choose to believe and obey and you are free to disbelieve and disobey, the choice is yours but each choice and decision has a consequence and the Lord God has made both consequence very clear! It is clear that the Lord’s predestination of a thing does not negate a person’s freewill. God chose Christ as seen in 1 Peter 1:20 “20 It is true that He was chosen and foreordained (destined and foreknown for it) before the foundation of the world, but He was brought out to public view (made manifest) in these last days (at the end of the times) for the sake of you” ; and 1 Peter 2:4 reads “4 Come to Him [then, to that] Living Stone which men [a]tried and threw away, but which is chosen [and] precious in God’s sight”. But Christ exercised His own freewill in the redemptive plan as seen in John 10:17-18 “17 For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life—to take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily. [I put it from Myself.] I am authorized and have power to lay it down (to resign it) and I am authorized and have power to take it back again. These are the instructions (orders) which I have received [as My charge] from My Father” ; in Galatians 1:4 “4 Who gave (yielded) Himself up [[a]to atone] for our sins [and [b]to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father—“ . If we want to share in the glory God chose for the saved, we must submit to His conditions, which is belief and obey. Every Spiritual Blessing: God “chose us in Him. . . that we should be holy and without blemish before Him” as seen in Ephesians 1:4 “4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love”. The word “that” expresses the goal of Heaven’s scheme. This means we can be “void of offense” and “unreprovable” at the Lord’s Second Coming as seen in Philippians 1:10 “10 So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble]”; in 1 Corinthians 1:8 “8 And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”. We know, however, of our many imperfections and weaknesses. Only “in Him” is this result possible. The word “sons” or “children” as seen in Ephesians 1:5 “5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—” shows the relationship that Christians have with God. He is our Father. A child of God receives His love as seen in 1 John 3:1 which reads, “See what [[a]an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him”. A child of God will share in the glory of the Son as seen in Romans 8:29 “29 For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was [a]aware and [b]loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren”. God freely bestowed His grace in Christ, the Beloved as seen in Ephesians 1:6 “6 [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved”. “Grace” underscores the reason He is disposed to save us, and it emphasizes our undeserving status. “But God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us. . . made us alive. . . by grace have ye been saved” as seen in Ephesians 2:4-5 “4 But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, 5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).” “God so loved us” that He chose to provide a way of salvation by giving His only Son. He has done what we never could do on our own as seen in John 3:6, and 16“6 What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit, 16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life“; in Romans 8:1-3 “Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [[a]the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [[b]subdued, overcame, [c]deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]” . Grace is not, however, unconditional. We can be forgiven of our sins as seen in Ephesians 1:7 “7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favour”, if we obey the gospel of God as seen in 1 Peter 4:17 “17 For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?”. Apostolic preaching required a human response. “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” as seen in Acts 2:38 “38 And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” . When we, by faith, access God’s grace, we are forgiven and redeemed as seen in Ephesians 1:7. “Forgiveness” means “to send away.” God sends away our trespasses by the blood of Christ. “Redemption” means deliverance or release. It contains the idea of the payment of a ransom. The blood of Christ is the purchase-price for our salvation as seen in Acts 20:28 “28 Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or [a]of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood”. Together, these terms vividly express to us the idea of being released from the penalty of sin. How precious it is to be forgiven. What a blessing! God has not left us in the dark. He has, according to His eternal purpose in Christ, revealed His will as seen in Ephesians 3:9-11 “9 Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus. 10 [The purpose is] that through the church the [a]complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. 11 This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord” . It is a wonderful blessing to know the nature and destiny of His plan — the mystery of His will as seen in Ephesians 1:7-9 “7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, 8 Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence), 9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in [c]Him”. The Mystery of God’s Will: In a consideration of spiritual blessings, Paul refers to the revelation of the mystery of God’s will. “Will” indicates the intentions, or desires, that eternally characterized His plan. But His will was not fully disclosed in the beginning; it unfolded progressively. We have this blessing. God blesses us by “making known unto us the mystery of His will” as seen in Ephesians 1:9 “9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in [c]Him”. The knowledge of His saving plan — as revealed in the Christian dispensation — should not go unappreciated. Think of what we know that was unknown in Old Testament times. Consider that life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel as seen in 2 Timothy 1:10 “10 [It is that purpose and grace] which He now has made known and has fully disclosed and made real [to us] through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled death and made it of no effect and brought life and immortality (immunity from eternal death) to light through the Gospel”. The term “mystery” is used in a special sense in Scripture. It means that which was hidden. It indicates that the eternal purpose was undiscoverable by man. However, God has revealed the unknowable to us. What people could not know about God’s plan was made plain through the gospel. The gospel — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ — is the living message concerning God’s eternal purpose. The patriarchs were promised. The prophets foretold. But you and I see the immeasurable nature of God’s love in action. "God so loved the world that He gave. . . " as seen in John 3:16; Romans 5:8 “8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us”. “Who can be saved?” is another part of God’s revealed will. Paul writes that “we” were made a heritage, and “you also” were saved as seen in Ephesians 1:11,13 “11 In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will, 13 In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit.”. The “we” refers to the Jews; the “you also” designates the Gentiles. Thus the apostle identifies the universal scope of the mystery as seen in Romans 1:16 “16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. This does not mean, however, that all will be saved as seen in Matthew 7:13-14 “13 Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14 But the gate is narrow (contracted [a]by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it” . The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes as seen in Romans 1:16; Acts 10:34 “34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons”. Another aspect of this blessing — what God has revealed to us — is the disclosure concerning the future. This involves both the duration of our heavenly habitation and the dignity that will be assigned to the saved. The Lord reveals to us that heaven is forever. The righteous, Lord Jesus says, shall go away into “eternal life” as seen in Matthew 25:46 “46 Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life”. The plan — that the Lord has now disclosed in the gospel — also includes the dignity that will be assigned to His redeemed children. "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory. . . "as seen in Philippians 3:20-21 “20 But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we [a]earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior, 21 Who will [b]transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself”. Christians will be "conformed to the image of His Son. . . "as seen in Romans 8:29 “29 For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was [a]aware and [b]loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.” This is the hope of glory as seen in Colossians 1:27 “27 To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory” , the redemption of our body as seen in Romans 8:23 “23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the [Holy] Spirit [a foretaste of the blissful things to come] groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies [from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal] our adoption (our manifestation as God’s sons)”, and the salvation of our soul as seen in Romans 8:11 “11 And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you”. What God has made known to us is so wonderful. It is powerfully motivating for us to walk in love, as Christ also loved us as seen in Ephesians 5:2 “2 And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance”. The Redemptive Finale: What a blessing! Having looked into “eternity past,” and considered some things about the redemptive present, Paul gives a glimpse of the “redemptive future.” God’s plan is ". . . unto a dispensation of the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth. . . " as seen in Ephesians 1:10 which reads, “10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth”. Paul speaks of a scheme that will certainly come to fulfilment. God’s plan is going to reach its goal, and the completion of this divine economy will sum up “all things in Christ.” What does Paul mean by the phrase “sum up”? When the divine economy is complete, there will be a unity, focused on Christ, of all things — things in heaven and on earth. All of the faithful — angelic and human — will be united “under one roof” for endless praise. Praise God! He is our Father. He adopted us, chose us, freely bestowed His grace on us, redeemed us, and forgave our sins; He revealed His will to us, saved us, confirmed His promises to us, and possesses us — in Christ, who gave Himself for our sins. When we contemplate who God is, what He has done, and what we will be, we will know exactly for what and why we should praise Him. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow, and walk every day according to the calling of the gospel of the Son of God.

  

Thank You, my Lord my Father, that You desire my happiness, I desire it too. Help me Lord to stay close to You all my days for I know from experience that one touch of Your gladness makes my heart sing Your praise. Help me Lord to always be in harmony with You and Your will. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!